Tag Archives: J.A. Tyler

Indie Lit Classics: Greying Ghost Press

5 Jul

In 2009, Ryan Call called Greying Ghost Press “a press to be excited about” and he was right and is right and seems like will be right for a good while to come. Check out Ryan’s spotlight from four years ago over. Then check out the rest of this post for 2013 Greying Ghost chatter from myself and others.

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The first Greying Ghost chapbook I ever encountered was I Am In The Air Right Now by Kathryn Regina. It might’ve been the first chapbook I ever bought myself, like looking back to remember the self-titled Savage Garden CD as the first I ever bought with my own money. I had never seen such a skinny, beautiful book–mirrored title, diagram stuck in the middle, maroon page spooning the cover. And the poems! The poems are not shy, though they might want you to think they are. In the air, they are, with their whimsy and their spirit, their new touch on the old heartbreak.

from “i thought there would be no one in the air”

the air is empty but

there are several families living in my chest.

I am going to open my own store and sell only

things that i especially like. puppets, diet coke,

spell books, beautiful rocks. i am going to sell

these things to the families in my arteries.

some of the people in the families die. there is a funeral

in my kneecap. the grandmother throws herself

into the grave. the children play at empty plots.

And 99 numbered copies later, poof, they are gone, have been gone, tucked away on select important shelves, just like so many of GG’s finest releases.

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Matt DeBenedictis, publisher of Safety Third Enterprises, on the radness of Greying Ghost Press:

Every chapbook I’ve ever ordered from Greying Ghost Press felt like they had me in mind when they made it, or they had a faithful hope in a cumulative reaction of cornerstone thoughts on first glance: the little details etch themselves like romantic gestures that can’t fade into the past.A circular die cut on a thick cover stock reveals a map and a nestled ampersand (J.A. Tyler’s Our Us & We), books folded like pamphlets are given wraps and buttons like they are gifts. I feel like a thieving’ little shit when I open some of them. I’ve been tempted before to just immediately frame their chapbooks on the wall (without opening a page) and just let the reviews on Goodreads be enough of a satisfaction.

The care that Greying Ghost Press puts to each chapbook is a knowledge that printed words are far from over; we still have so much imagination on how to rest ink onto paper.

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Cassandra Gillig, keeper of that dumb poetry blog, on GG’s hosting the Corduroy Mountain archives:

Probably the part of Greying Ghost I enjoy the most (since it is very easily sharable & free to access & this is something of great value to anyone looking to get into a press & find out what they are doing) is their online archiving of Corduroy Mountain.  Corduroy Mountain was, unarguably, something too special for human consumption–a literary magazine worth all of the awe & envy most can & should muster.

You can see everything that was published in Corduroy Mountain on Greying Ghost’s Issuu Site, which is an incredible thing.  CM also does a great job of showcasing the perfect brilliance GG publishes on a regular basis.  In addition to making things that are frustratingly gorgeous, GG has published some of my favorite writers.  Becca Klaver’s Inside A Red Corvette is kinda funny, way good, & so honest.  Dan Boehl’s sometimes perfectly sparse and always overwhelmingly perspicacious Les Miseres et les Mal-Heurs de la Guerre is nearly too wonderful for words.  Paige Taggert, Kathleen Rooney, Jac Jemc, & Sasha Fletcher all released stupidly good things with the press.  Not to mention the JA Tyler & Schomburg chapbooks which I feel are adored universally by those who have read them.

The appeal of Greying Ghost is, of course, their willingness to take risks and to publish writers who are experimenting with form, and, while this is not necessarily the first press to do it, the work GG has championed is perfect and enriching and, wholly, presses like GG are the reason small press publishing is so exciting right now.

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Matthew Mahaney, author of Your Attraction to Sharp Machines (Bat Cat Press), on his favorite GG chapbook, Sugar Means Yes, by Julia Cohen and Mathias Svalina:

The silver-blue wallpaper cover pages define the room of this chapbook, the physical borders of a world in which brothers and sisters use foxes, masks, razors, and salt to teach us the true, dark meaning of every object and action, and where a new lesson will find you each time you visit.

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And when you order one of these fine fine cared-for chapbooks, the envelope also comes stuffed with bonus goodies, a.k.a. pamphlets, these little brushstrokes, printed and folded goodness, from folks like Danniel Schoonebeek, Wendy Xu, Jennifer H. Fortin, Brian Foley, and more.

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Carrie Lorig, author of NODS. (Magic Helicopter Press), on her two favorite pamphlets (one of which happens to be mine, awww shucks, WOW):

In South Korea (a town called Imjingak / 임진각), there is a Pamphlet/Leaflet Launch Site. It is about getting information across a young, sore border. Now that there is a ban, and they use large balloons.

According to the OED, the word ‘pamphlet’ is named for a popular love poem, Pamphilus, seu de Amore, with a Greek name (It has not been tested in French. -OED) that means “friend to everyone.”

At my catering job, during a lull in service, the sweating girl next to me mumbles, “If your wedding is going to be this big, you need to just do the food family style.” Big bowls for whole tables. Passing and touching moves it fast, spreads it fast.

Pamphlets, flyers, leaflets. Like ants or my friend Bridget’s bees, I hardly imagine them alone. I see them as the sudden waterfall swim they cause in the air. I see them devouring a part of the ground.

My two Greying Ghost pamphlets were pressed to me. Right before M.G. Martin left a dance party in Boston, he put “Sister, Thank You,” (#47) in my hand. It was fucksnowing, I’m sure, when I opened the manila envelope with “Don’t Reason” (#40) by Tyler Gobble inside.

“Don’t Reason” – The symmetry, the railing against the title, in Gobble’s “Don’t Reason” is as beautiful and smallbig as HALLELUJAH. “I can’t believe / that was you “, “You can’t believe / the words,” “The fact we need / God,” “The fact we need / Meth Sun,” “How can they talk / about so many overturned cars,” “I heard a man / singing a song / on a bus” A prayer is a thing you assemble and aim with don’t reason. You assemble it in the face of no galaxy you can reach into. You put your head in the fridge to cool off. You don’t do it to get an understanding of why we send these floating, desperate chunks of flower and human ash and plane crash and hum drifting out.

“Sister, Thank You” – I don’t always think repetition is as conscious as we insist it is. What if every time you say a word, you are not as aware that it is the same word as the previous word you just uttered as you are that you are saying the word however you are in that moment, on that part of the page, in that blank space of the conversation. It doesn’t matter what comes after it or before it. This might be how the constant onslaught of thank you interrupted by “roses, sister, language, mouth, tongue, deep, without, bones, skin” is thinking about repetition. I can echo through them all together, taking in the longitude and population and spelling out carefully as it gets big enough to be a Thank You nation-state. Or, I can encounter each of them alone, failing alone, struggling alone, to get to a sister. There are 11 rocks in this one, two in that one. A beluga that won’t be touched unless you are naked.

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Jamie Iredell, author of lots of good stuff like The Book of Freaks (Future Tense Books), on the lasting goodness of Greying Ghost Press:

I’ve pretty much always loved GG. This goes back to the early days of the “online lit” thing, or “alt lit,” whatever you wanna call it. And maybe they weren’t even really the “early days” either, but whatever. I bought Peter Berghoef’s “News of the Haircut,” “Help” by Adam Fieled, “At The Pulse,” by Laura Carter (a very close friend of many years), “I Will Unfold You With My Hairy Hands” by Shane Jones, “The Tornado Is Not A Surrealist” by Brian Foley, “Walden Book” by Allen Bramhall (this was a huge book for me; it was amazing and amazingly designed), and “Naturalistless” by Christopher Rizzo. I was blown away by these books, and at the time I was writing my own stuff and was publishing it in literary magazines. Carl was, at the time, putting together stuff for the first Corduroy Mountain issue, and I submitted. He liked what I’d written, and asked if I had enough to make a chapbook. That was the middle section (“When I Moved to Nevada”) of what became my first book, Prose. Poems. a Novel. Since all of that went down, I’ve still been a GG fan, as Carl has continued to produce amazing work: “Inside A Red Corvette” by Becca Klaver, “I Am In The Air Right Now” by Kathryn Regina, “Our Us & We” by J.A. Tyler, “Pretend You’ll Do It Again” by Josh Russell, “Sky Poems” by Nate Pritts, “The Poughkeepsiad” by Joshua Harmon. And they just keep coming. Amazing books, Careful attention to language and design. Carl Annarummo is a diamond in coal field of contemporary lit.

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Two of my favorite GG releases, for both their perfect design and dropping-of-the-jaw poems, are Imaginary Portraits by Joshua Ware (full disclosure tag: Vouched contributor) and Plus or Minus by Weston Cutter. Two very different books, but paired together in my heart. Ware’s is a pocket-sized thing, sturdy dark dark cover with die-cut window for the title to peek out from its yellow home. Cutter’s book is sheathed in a map. Ware’s poems are vignettes masquerading as visions. Cutter’s poems are uncompromising meditations. Moving poems and unique cases, these are two of the newer and most fitting representations of the stellar work Greying Ghost produces.

from Cutter’s “Yours, Alaska”:

in cragginess and distance, in separation

and bearing; in your imagination Alaska

I want to know if you see my Minnesota

as the dumb cousin pestering for a pass

during the post-Thanksgiving football game

and what about Montana, Alaska? Okay,

no one can ever be as cold, Alaska, but

let’s start a band, call ourselves the Chills:

you’ll wear a trucker’s hat, play the bass,

lay a beat for the rest of us to throb

longingly along to but Alaska you know

you can’t stay frozen forever, yes?

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“The quality of their productions alone make them one of the most sought after small presses to work with — if you ever get the chance, jump at it!” – Hosho McCreesh, author of several awesome books

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Grab yourself a subscription for Greying Ghost’s 2013/2014 catalog or pick up one of the few past releases still available. This stuff is hot.

Visitors: No One Told Me I Was Going to Disappear

7 Jun

Visiting us this month at Vouched is Robert Stapleton, founding editor of Booth. His work has appeared with Word Riot, Everyday Genius, and elsewhere. He teaches at Butler University.

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No One Told Me I Was Going to Disappear
by J.A. Tyler & John Dermot Woods
Fiction, 124pgs
Jaded Ibis Productions, $30

No One Told Me I Was Going to Disappear, the collaborative new novel from JA Tyler and John Dermot Woods, thrums with iridescence and a softening of the skull. No signposts appear in this landscape. In brief, prose-poemy chapters, the male narrator muses on his conjoined sister, sensory moments, the flames and gaping eyes of life as a freakshow attraction, and the power and loss of the ‘we.’ This is a bit like reading Benjy Compson interpet U2’s “One” — in all the right ways.

I say our when it is us and it is always us once you have come aboard. This is we though we started as two, though there was once the individual, the separation. We started out here separate. We started as two, we one. There was a me and a you when all was dark and this hadn’t really started. Before we had been or become us. This now we, conjoined.

Well-written stories invite us to finger ourselves on the map. This occurs when the evocations are precise, heat on iron, sparks. My time with this tale, these words, transcended its meditation on carnival Siamese and collective identity. These sentences shook loose something in me, something hardscrabble and otherwise coded in an unknown tongue.

I think about being a horse and you think about being a horse. I think about the word colt and you are spelling it out. I think about the sound of the horse hooves on dirt and you are smelling the dust churned by its shoes, the flowers on the side and the freedom of bobbing up and down. We are living and this is the kind of living that we do.

With a few exceptions a week, my wife and I are not conjoined. We are, though, forever scratched into the mathematics of the universe through our children, our twenty years together, our successes and our losses–which we stare down together. Shared memory, silence and strife and sweetness, accumulates vertically.

I would like to shine and that means you would like to shine, because the two of us should do nothing if not shine. We should be a beacon. We should be a light. And if they do cut us open like sometimes we threaten to do, there would be light. Light would come from out of us and the world would explode. Our world would explode.

For years I scraped my head against the falling sky in a Methodist Hospital room where we lost Quentin, our premature son. Placental abruption. A bleeding out. Nurses lined up like soldier ants. My partner wheeled away on a gurney as the blood that five minutes ago filled her belly now streamed loose, a tributary to loss, the night war arrived.

If we could have we would have, built a fence in our mother’s womb, made a wall between us that could not be severed, that was too high to climb and too dangerous to ride our horse across.

My wife survived the surgery and the transfusions and, together, we found our way out of that room, that moment, her pushing back on gravity for the both of us. Eventually we tried again and birthed a beautiful daughter and are now occupied in all the glorious normal pursuits of family and work. But occasionally I run across an idea, a framing, a series of words, and I’m reminded of the terrible and fantastic power of grief and love. No One Told Me I Was Going to Disappear is a little story with a big and profound punch.

My heart is your heart. This heart is our heart.

Forthcoming!

8 Mar

Everyday Genius has been doing its cool usual thing, everyday content of hmmmm….goodness. Lately, it has been excerpts from forthcoming titles. Rad rad rad forthcoming titles.

Like J. A. Tyler’s When We Hold Our Hands (Dark Sky Books)–

When our house becomes a boat there will be all the canned goods lining the shelves and in the pitch of our movements the food will roll our hallways and clunk down the stairs and make its way out the front door. We will have left it open to go and see if this morning, unlike other mornings, the sky will not be red.

Like Zachary Schomburg’s Fjords vol.1 (Black Ocean)–

On the other side is a mountain town. The air is clean and cold. I can hear the ice breaking in the distance. There is a woman in a long black dress and a black scarf over her face. Welcome to Spitzbergen she says. Then she lifts up her dress. Nothing happens next.

Like the pieces from today from Laurie Saurborn Young’s Carnavoria (H_NGM_N)–

Translated from the Russian

One notices without fidelity
how moss covets stone

and ice crystals build
themselves into cold dirt.

Existence repays the favor
and it becomes easier to love

parenthetically, without ever
mentioning the breasts.

beauty and beauty

29 Apr

Thanks to PANK’s wonderful round-up, I came upon Sawmill Issue 2. Been reading through this thing, and goodness, some great writing in here. Favorite pieces by J.A. Tyler, Matt Stranach, and Russell Dillon. But all these things shake awesome word wisdom. AND THE DESIGN, oh the design is simple and comforting and easy-to-read. I’m excited to see more from this promising new journal.

J.A. Tyler Filling Up The Web Journals With Some Sweet Brother War Action

15 Jan

I first remember reading a selection from J.A. Tyler’s Variations of a Brother War in the September Issue of elimae.

Of course, I was like WOAH, astounded by how the sentences hold the action, the characters, seeming to release them once the section is finished.

Found out that another one is in Wigleaf. This is the Cabins Triptych. The tension is incredible here. I really want to say more, but these pieces speak for themselves.

Here are some more:

At Necessary Fiction

At Gulf Stream

At >kill author

At Knee-Jerk

I wanted to throw these together in one post because this is something special in the making, something that can speak for itself. One more thing from me: Rereading all these is a great Saturday morning experience.

J. A. Tyler’s “Halfway to Noah Means”

22 Sep

From “Halfway to Noah Means,” a story by J. A. Tyler just up over at Annalemma:

They have felt the rain and the jarring of the earth when mechanized earthquakes shook each city to its bottom drawers. They know that this ark and Noah are the way to find new land, are the way to lift their hooves until the water has receded.

Read the rest over at Annalemma, and you’ll also get to check out the great art by Max Kauffman.

Smalldoggies

19 Sep

Found out about Smalldoggies from J.A. Tyler over at Big Other.

Browsing around, kicking over rocks, glow worms wiggling.

Like Carrie Seitzinger’s “Secret Pages I” (read the rest too, but this one ruled extra).

That beginning, as the speaker says of the night, “lulls us,” I think, as readers, but then it shifts, tumbling poemhead-first into yearning. Clever lines, too, poked me tenderly: “Let me hold it in the palm of your bed” and “Hold my navel under your tongue/if you think you want to speak to my center.”

Like Tom DeBeauchamp’s “Daniel With The Cummy Pants”

Extra points for the title! And the story talks all sorts of oddness, about age, about relationships, about awkwardness. It also teaches about resolution. I mean, seriously, I keep reading that ending, beautiful description, last turn of dialogue, DANG.

Like Chris Stout’s Big Tunes, Small Records Column

Though only one post in, this one about Bobby Hebb, I’m looking forward to Stout’s adventure into exploring 45’s and their place in music culture. It’s cool to see a lit-heavy place dedicate some space to music, that beautiful beautiful friend.

Once, this Smalldoggies thing gets more content, more contributors, it seems destined for ultimate coolness. All those drop down menus and categories equals a colorful smattering of voices, ideas, faces. MOST IMPORTANTLY LOTS AND LOTS OF WORDS. Quantity isn’t everything, you know, but quality quantity rules. Thanks, Smalldoggies.

September Elimae

11 Sep

Being their punctual selves, Elimae popped out a new baby at the beginning of the month, full of goodness, potential, and beautiful eyes. Being myself, I let the rest of the websters have their go at it, waiting 11 days to let my internetting take me back to my beloved darling.

Here is how I’m doing this: I’m sitting down in my room, kids (not mine) are playing outside (not reading books/web journals!), and I’M GONNA READ THIS WHOLE ISSUE. I usually shriek when something makes my brain feel nice, so I’ll write about that below, like my words can hopefully echo my howl. COOL? cool?

READY SET GO MAN GO

WHAT’S THIS? A PAINTING? FIRST THING! GREAT THING! This thing reminds me nothing is perfect, but so much can be AWESOME. OH this painting called ADVERT BY JOHN LINDUS greets me, whispers to keep going, keep going. HELLO.

The Scale” by Kimberly Ruth owns seven sentences, each one is a plop of setting, a plop of characterization, a plop of LIFE. This sentence alone is enough for me: “I can drive you, but maybe you ought to walk, he said.” DANG.

I’m studying Manifestos in one of my classes, and something about “My Uniform” by Jeremy Lespi is calling out MANIFESTO, or maybe MANI at least. Meaning maniac, mania, manifold, “man i can’t believe how cool this poem is.” Cool here meaning I can’t pull myself away from this piece, the emotion, the description, the sound. Just say it, “My uniform is grey and green and light blue and I never take it off.” Woah.

“Variations of a Brother War (Ammo Triptych)” by J.A. Tyler showcases why it is hard to find a cool issue of a sweet journal without finding Tyler inside. It is the craft of this piece, of most his pieces, that astounds me, the way the repetition in structure drives each piece, the concision of each sentence, seeming thoughtful and important, even the way the three pieces (purposely?) play together is striking. I’m astounded ASTOUNDED I said.

These Two Fictions by Barry Graham are touching without making me gag. Good, thanks. I want to use the word erupt, but I’m not sure that works. I think what I’m trying to say is the reflective angle of these two pieces is like a volcano or angry guy, but no that makes no sense at all. Really, what I’m trying to say is these two pieces, though stemming from obviously similar openings, unfold, yes unfold, like a really nice picture, where something is realized by the viewer-of-said-picture, erupting (there I said it) in a pleasant “ahhhh” or “awwww” or “ohhhh” moment (depending on your place in life) that exudes from the words on the page, um screen. (Side note: I can’t recall a piece of lit that refers to Shrek.)

ANOTHER BEAUTIFUL ISSUE BY ONE OF MY FAVORITE ONLINE JOURNALS. I’M SO STOKED TO BE ABLE TO TALK ABOUT THIS NEW ISSUE HERE. HEY I’M JUST SO STOKED TO BE HERE. THANK YOU FOR YOUR EYES EVERYONE.

Oh, I should not be rude, especially on my first post: what is your favorite piece, dear reader, from this issue?